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A big night for Cameron
Miss Virginia ready for what happens on pageant's final night

 Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron of Spotsylvania stands out in a goldenrod silk-satin Sherri Hill gown with crystals embedded in the bodice.
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Date published: 1/30/2010

BY EDIE GROSS

LAS VEGAS

--The ruse goes something like this: A Miss America Pageant official comes running up to a contestant in a panic and says something like, "There's a problem with your dress and we need to contact your business manager. Do you have her phone number?"

And the contestant, now equally panicked, reaches into her purse or pocket and pulls out her cell phone, only to have it confiscated by the pageant official because it's contraband.

Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron fell for it, but she was in good company. Apparently her roommate, Miss Colorado Katie Layman, fell for it too, as did Miss Oregon CC Barber and Miss Maine Susie Stauble (whose aunt and uncle, Paul and Louise Desilets, live in Spotsylvania).

The phone phishing scam--designed to remove any and all distractions from the contestants--didn't mar Cameron's Miss America experience a bit.

She laughed about it Thursday before her swimsuit and evening gown round, saying she's having the time of her life.

"I feel like this whole time has been an out-of-body experience," said Cameron, 22, of Spotsylvania. "I'm very at peace with whatever happens because I know that win or lose, I've laid it all on the floor. I've done whatever was necessary to get me to this point."

Cameron's trip to the main stage has gone well so far. She captured the top award for talent Tuesday night with a powerful rendition of "Listen" from "Dreamgirls." She nailed a question about her AIDS education platform on Wednesday night, steering clear of the "um's" and "you know's" that have haunted other contestants.

And on Thursday night, she looked stunning in a black bikini, accented by gold and green bracelets on her right wrist and, later, a goldenrod silk-satin Sherri Hill gown with crystals embedded in the bodice.

It's all in the judges' hands now.

Based on scores from those preliminary rounds, as well as a private interview before the judging panel, 15 women will make it into the final round of the Miss America Pageant, broadcast live tonight at 8 p.m. on TLC.

Cameron said she has enjoyed herself immensely. Her only concern--disappointing her family, friends and supporters.


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FOR CAMERON, MISS AMERICA PAGEANT EXPERIENCE FULL OF EXCITEMENT

The contestants in the preliminary rounds and tonight's Miss America Pageant are scored by six judges from the fields of beauty, community service, fitness, talent, communications and rising talent.

The judges are:

Vivica A. Fox, actress and producer, host of the reality TV series "The Cougar," and one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people

Katie Harman, Miss America 2002, national spokeswoman for the Touched by Cancer organization and a classical and operatic vocalist

Shawn Johnson, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, the season 8 champion on "Dancing With the Stars," and at 18, the youngest Miss America judge ever

Dave Koz, a six-time Grammy nominee and member of the board of governors for the Grammy Foundation

Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk-show host and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Brooke White, recording artist who was a finalist on season 7 of "American Idol"

On the fun she's had at public appearances:

"When we've gone on our public outings, people who are not here for the pageant are waiting for their state to come by and they're like, 'Ohhh! Virginia!' They're so excited we're here and we're representing their state and they're pulling for their girl and they've never even met her before. Feeling like a little celebrity walking through The Venetian or Planet Hollywood has been, I think, the most exciting part for everybody."

On the swimsuit round:

"A lot of times, people consider the swimsuit the worst part of the pageant, and though it is the most uncomfortable part of the pageant, I am a little excited about this portion, especially because I'm considered one of the more curvy women here. But I think it's important that the Miss America Organization embraces that to let young women all across the country know that you can be physically fit, you can be toned and you can still have curves. So I'm a little excited about that. I might not be the winner because I'm not the buffest body out there, but I at least want to be a beacon of hope for girls out there who watch this pageant and think, 'I don't have that body,' but they might have mine, so they might feel like they fit."

On keeping her jewelry and shoes for each round in separate, labeled plastic bags:

"The Ziploc plan has been working seamlessly. That's been absolutely wonderful. Everything's in a set spot for me. I don't have to go, 'Where's my -- ?' because it's all in the Ziploc bag. And if it's not there, that means I wasn't supposed to have it."

On Clinton Kelly, the co-host of "What Not to Wear" and host of "Miss America: Behind the Curtain" the night before the live pageant:

"We have walked by Clinton Kelly a couple of times when he was shooting and didn't realize it because he's grown this beard. Then we turned around and were like, 'Oh my God, it's Clinton Kelly!' But then you're like, 'Oh God, what do we look like? Is he going to tell us that's what we shouldn't wear?'"

For regular updates on Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron's bid to become Miss America and to post messages for her, visit fredericks burg.com and listen to 99.3 The Vibe today between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m.

The Miss America Pageant airs live Saturday at 8 p.m. on TLC. Tonight at 10, TLC will show "America's Choice Revealed: TLC's Miss America Behind the Curtain," which will allow viewers to help vote some of the contestants into the final competition.